Volunteering at Emmaus South Wales is a win-win. I’ve made new friends and it’s nice to give something back.

I have volunteered at Emmaus South Wales for six years in the Porthcawl shop. I knew about Emmaus through my late partner. He was terminally ill and volunteered whenever he felt up to it. I’d always wanted to go with him, but I didn’t want to intrude. Everyone at Emmaus made such a fuss of him every time he went there, and it was kind of his thing.

When he passed away, I decided to start volunteering and loved it straight away. After losing my partner, volunteering opened up a whole new aspect of my life and I made lots of contacts, became friends with their friends, and so on.

I volunteer in the clothes room a couple of days a week helping to sort, price and put tags on the donations. It’s fantastic in Porthcawl for clothing donations. There have been times that I can’t even get through the door because we’ve had so much in! I’ve also helped on the till and assisted customers. There’s never a minute in the day when we’re not doing something, I love it.

I have definitely steered people towards Emmaus over the years. One time, I looked after someone’s dog because they didn’t have a house. When she was given somewhere to live, I told her about Emmaus helping people with solidarity furniture and she got some discounted and free items to furnish her place. That part of making a difference to people’s lives is lovely.

Whenever my niece visits from London, we both volunteer at the Porthcawl shop together. She has bad mental health and volunteering did her the world of good. She loved it so much the first time that she looked for a volunteer role near her and now helps four days a week in a mental health charity in Croydon.

The Emmaus in Lambeth came to her rescue as well when she moved into a new place with nothing at all, not even a cooker or fridge. Emmaus kindly gave her a bed, table and chairs, a little chair, and a coffee table as a solidarity package and they even put the furniture together for her.

My daughter also volunteers with me when she visits. Youngsters are quicker too, so when she saw the room full of clothing that needed to be sorted, she said “right, let’s do it!” and got through it all.

Emmaus is there for people when they need it, and that’s the main thing. It’s nice volunteering at a place where you can see what the money from the shops is going towards, like providing accommodation and support to people who were homeless. It’s rewarding. The companions work in the shops too and there have been many gems over the years.

To anyone thinking about volunteering at Emmaus, I’d say come on in! If people realised how flexible it can be, it might be easier to give that time. In the past, we’ve had people just come in to hoover or clean the kitchen area. I volunteered a lot to begin with, but I have a new partner now so reduced my hours slightly which Emmaus was fine with. It really can just be a few hours if that’s all you have spare.